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Storms Cause Damage in Ohio Valley

July 20, 1998

Violent thunderstorms damaged homes and businesses in the Ohio Valley during the night, flooding roads with more than 6 inches of rain and blacking out thousands of customers early today around Cincinnati.

Lightning and some downed power lines caused fires late Sunday around Lima, Ohio, and resident David Welch was rudely awakened when a tree fell on his house.

``I about had a heart attack,″ he said. ``The whole house shook. I thought I was back in the service.″

The storms knocked out electrical service early today to an estimated 100,000 customers in the Cincinnati area, according to Cinergy Corp., the parent company of Cincinnati Gas & Electric Co. Service had been restored to about half by this morning, spokeswoman Kathy Meinke said.

Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati had to switch to its backup generator, and canceled about 70 elective operations scheduled for today to conserve power for emergencies, spokeswoman Margaret Devereux said.

``It’s too risky using up all that juice ... If you needed it, you wouldn’t have it,″ she said.

An estimated 15,000 customers also were blacked out elsewhere in the state, and scattered outages were reported during the night in Indiana and Georgia.

An estimated 6 to 10 inches of rain fell early today at Columbus, Ind., about 40 miles south of Indianapolis, causing flash flooding that stalled motorists on highways, the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department said. No evacuations were necessary.

``We’re flooding away,″ said Jeanette Downs, a secretary in the sheriff’s office. ``It’s just countywide, everywhere.″

More than 4 inches of rain fell in parts of east-central Kentucky early today and standing water slowed morning rush hour traffic in Lexington.

Two people had to be rescued from a flooded car and three others were helped out of their home, said Nicholas County, Ky., emergency services director Gene Kelley. No injuries were reported.

On Sunday, wind gusted to more than 65 mph at Fort Wayne, Ind., and damaged the Moving Wall, a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on display there, scattering its 165-pound slabs hundreds of feet and destroying mementos left by visitors.

Storms also blew trees onto several houses and businesses in northeastern Georgia, said Elaine Sexton, emergency management director for Hall County and for Gainesville.

``The steeple of the Church of the Nazarene was blown off,″ she said early today.